Drug and food cravings promote similar patterns of neural activation in the brain.

Hyperpalatable foods have similarities to addictive substances in the brain. It activates the neural circuits of dopamine and opioids; triggers an artificially elevated reward level; and is rapidly absorbed by the bloodstream, much like drugs. Furthermore, these foods cause a compensatory mechanism that leads to tolerance. The result is a craving for more.

Combined with additives, these enhance the reward properties. Similar to drugs, consumers are aware that negative consequences will result from high levels of fat and sugar, yet they “can’t” limit their enjoyment.

Minorities, in particular, suffer the addictive consequences of overindulging in foods. In addition to the high cost to the health care system, long-term ingestion can also lead to impairment of the growing baby in utero of a woman.

Highly processed foods have been altered in ways similar to addictive drugs. Both the increased potency of this substance and its rapid absorption into the bloodstream increase the potential for addiction.

The combination of fat and added sugar in particular triggers the same reactions in the brain as cocaine.

The foods photographed are among those most addictive and are often measured in studies using the Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS). Pizza is shown to have a score of 4.01 (out of 7 – extremely addictive) and ham a score of 3.03.